Stiffness of the common carotid artery in treated hypertensive patients

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Antihypertensive treatment, by lowering blood pressure and correcting functional and/or structural abnormalities of the arterial wall, may prevent the arterial damage due to the accelerated ageing process. The objective of the present study was to determine, using a cross-sectional approach, whether arterial distensibility of patients whose blood pressure had been normalized for several months by antihypertensive treatment, was significantly higher than that of untreated hypertensive patients. The properties of the vessel wall of the common carotid artery (CCA) were studied non-invasively, using an original pulsed ultrasound echo-tracking system based on Doppler shift, during a study comparing 46 normotensive subjects and 81 age-matched hypertensive patients. The latter group included 25 patients well controlled by antihypertensive treatment for at least 3 months and 56 untreated hypertensives. The three groups did not differ with respect to age, total and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood glucose and smoking. In each group, there were significant relationships between age and CCA dimensional and functional data, including end-diastolic diameter, absolute and relative stroke changes in diameter and Peterson modulus, indicating a widening of the CCA with advancing age and a decrease in its buffering function. When compared with untreated hypertensives, well controlled hypertensives had significantly lower blood pressure and Peterson elastic modulus according to age. However, although blood pressure of well controlled hypertensives was not significantly different from that of normotensive subjects, their arterial distensibility remained altered compared with that of normotensive subjects (significant increase in Peterson elastic modulus). These results suggest that long-term antihypertensive treatment may not fully reverse arterial lesions due to the hypertensive disease.

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